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Woman dies in LAPD custody, officers under investigation

LAPD

Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD has had to explain a number of investigations of officers accused of excessive force in the past couple of weeks.

A woman under investigation for alleged child endangerment died in the back of a patrol car in July, LAPD said Thursday. The department took five officers off field duty pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation into the death. 

The LAPD's official statement on the incident says Thomas had left her children, 3 and 12 years old, at the Southeast Division station on July 22. Officers then went to her home to ask why she'd left the children there. When they decided to arrest her, "she began actively resisting arrest, attempting to pull away from the officers," the statement says. "One officer performed a leg sweep and took Thomas to the ground to gain control of her."

Thomas was handcuffed and placed in leg restraints. Soon after officers put her in the back of the patrol car, they noticed she wasn't breathing and called an ambulance. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.  

The L.A. Times has additional information, which could not immediately be confirmed. It reports that a video of the incident, captured by the dashboard camera in the patrol car, allegedly shows officers from the Southeast division taking Alesia Thomas  into custody. A female officer threatended Thomas and then allegedly "stomped" on the woman's genital area when she struggled.

The news surfaces as the LAPD faces heat over unrelated accusations of excessive force in the Foothill and Pacific Divisions.

In a statement, Chief Charlie Beck said, "I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously and directed that the officers involved be removed from field duties until further details are known, including what part intoxicants and physical conditions contributed. I’m confident we will get to the truth, no matter where that leads us.”

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